The 34-year-old has played the second most T20 cricket out of anyone in the world with 271 matches (West Indian Kieron Pollard leads the way with 290 games), but apart from bringing plenty of tactical knowledge out on the field, Morkel also believes it is vital to make a difference in the changeroom.
“Captaincy is a new challenge and something I haven’t done since school, but I feel I’m ready. I’ve seen most things in cricket and I have lots of experience to fall back on, but I want to add my own flavour to the job as well. It’s about what happens off the field as well, as captain having an open-door policy. It’s about how to get the best out of the players, knowing them outside cricket, what makes them tick.
“There’s a lot of talk at the moment about the New Zealand way – being more aggressive, taking wickets – and with the squad we have we can play that sort of cricket. But the big challenge is to get the player buy-in. They can’t be scared that they’re playing for their place, they need to play with freedom and I will encourage them to do that,” Morkel told The Citizen.
Bitter experience has been a good teacher for the hard-hitting seam bowler in this regard.
“I always felt when I was with the national team, rightly or wrongly, that I was playing under pressure and I didn’t necessarily have the backing, except when Mickey Arthur was coach and that’s when I played my best cricket for South Africa. I wrote a lot of thoughts down about what I didn’t like as a cricketer and I believe 90% of it applies to all players, we have the same worries and fears. I want to make them comfortable, eradicate the problems.
“Things like announcing the starting team two days before. Not knowing an hour before the game whether you’re playing or not just breaks you. I want to bring clarity, build trust with the players and be honest. In our environment, that’s the only way to get respect,” Morkel said.
The major benefit for the Titans is that it ensures Morkel, their match-winner in the Momentum One-Day Cup final last season, will be at the centre of the limited-overs campaigns next season, rather than on the periphery as he has been for various reasons in recent seasons.
“I don’t see myself playing international cricket anymore, so I want to put everything back into the Titans for the next couple of years,” Morkel said.